I thought I was struggling with making art because I wasn’t creative enough (or anymore). Or maybe I was too lazy. I knew I wanted to create, but I still found myself hesitating to make any mark.
Normally the wisdom for “creative block” is to press on, to create anyway. And yes, this can absolutely work. Sometimes. One small idea can, when explored, lead to many more — and this repeats with each new idea, and before you know it, you have so much exciting stuff to create.
The problem for me was I already had a list of ideas. I already knew what I wanted to do, I just wasn’t doing it. And to get started seemed nearly impossible.
I realize now that problem was two-fold.
First, I was putting so much pressure on myself that I was sucking the joy out of my work. I was starting to resent it. Second, I especially needed to feel that joy to make my art because I create “happy” art. I aspire to create art that makes people smile when they see it.
So for me, emotion plays a large part in the creative process. I know a lot of artists can work from a place of emotional depths — sadness and fear can be great sources of inspiration. However, I prefer to work from a place of play, humor, and exploration. And I just couldn’t push myself into that mindset.
So I gave myself room to just not make art for a while.
I worked on my hobbies, got up off the couch (my desk of sorts) and worked out (for fun!). In some ways, it was a mental vacation to explore ways to spend my time that help me destress and have fun. But it was also more than that– it involved talking to my doctor and getting help with my anxiety and depression. It was starting therapy and medication. It was journaling, and ice cream, and TV show binges, and yoga. Trying to cook, reading books, and taking naps.
Eventually, within a few weeks, I was feeling refreshed and ready to create again. Having a better mood and attitude and daily routines meant that I wasn’t daunted at the thought of creating artwork anymore. I feel like myself again, and this self wants to make art! I’m having fun with it again, and I think it keeps my work fun too. I know I now have the resources to find that bit of renewed energy and eventually channel it into my art.
By giving myself space to come back to creativity in my own time, I found myself no longer standing in my own way.
In this time of anxiety and uncertainty, lets all do our part to take care of one another, but let’s not forget to take care of ourselves as well. As writer Glennon Doyle often says, “we can do hard things.”